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Hail Ceasar!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie review

Movie Rating:

Credit where credit is due, Cineworld’s allocated seating plan may be a joke (front half of screening empty, sat where I wanted), but at least when you tell the poor under-paid lackey that the lights haven’t been dimmed he’s on it in a flash.

Fortunately, having to go and find someone to tell (have I talked to you about the dearth of ushers?) didn’t get in the way of the start of DoTPoTA, which is just as well as I was already being forced to see it in 3D.

And there’s nothing dafter than walking up to a cinema wearing sunglasses, knowing full well you’ll be putting another pair on in five minutes…

Anyhoo, such is the lot of the modern multiplex attendee, moans almost making you forget you actually went there to watch a film.

Thankfully, thirty seconds into DoTPoTA (screw it, I’m switching to Dawn – it’s easier to type) the outside world is but a distant memory.

Picking up, sort of, where Rise left off, Dawn has us ten years into the future – the man-made virus has wiped out all but the genetically-immune humans and the apes (last seen beating the crap out of everything) have set up home in the woods above San Francisco and are quite happy thank you.

Until an human wanders in. With friends.

From here, we not only learn where the humans are holed up, but what conflicts and factions exist within the Ape world.

It’s safe to say, things won’t be the same again for anyone – ape or human.

Like all good sci-fi films, Dawn is holding a mirror up to the world – in this case, war, conflict, racism… You know, pretty much the cause of everything going on in Ukraine/Palestine/Anywhere else you can think of.

And it’s this parallel that helps to make Dawn such a powerful film.

What also makes it land with such a wallop is the performances.

Among the humans, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman are all perfectly good, interacting well with the Ape co-stars when needed and generally holding their own.

But it’s the apes that are the stars.

Led by Andy Serkiss as Ceasar, the whole gang have weight and heft far beyond their pixels.

You are drawn into their world quickly and easily, you care when Mrs Ceasar is unwell (surely a future film title), and you really really care when Koba starts kicking off.

And that is really where this film comes into its own.

No other film in recent memory (and I’m purposefully excluding Pixar here) has managed to create such emotional depth from CGI characters.

Yes, Serkis and the other key players are in mo-cap suits (as you kidz call them), but they don’t have thousands of apes tearing across the screen on horse back. But it feels like they do.

And as the film unfolds, and unions are fomed and quashed, sides switched and reason faces rage, you find yourself rooting for the right side, hoping they will rise above it all and triumph.

And I’m not talking about the humans.

It’s a bugger talking about this film in such a way as to not give anything away, because the plot shifts about at a frantic pace – but not once do you get bored.

Coming in at around the two-hour mark, Dawn has you gripped throughout – and bar a sequence late-on the 3D is so unobtrusive as to be almost pointless.

There is very little wrong with it.

OK, if you want to be picky a couple of the back-story bits are a bit schmaltzy, you can question how apes travel as fast as cars and they grasp machine guns with alarming ease (not a spoiler, we’ve all seen that clip), but none of this – none – detracts from what is a stunningly powerful movie.

Even the setting up of an inevitable third film fits and feels like a natural progression of the story.

Basically, Dawn has the lot – fights, family tensions, talking apes with big-ass spears, politics, drama, tension, and a comic turn with a gun.

What else do you want?

Well, yes, an Oscar for Serkis, but other than that?

Nothing. Exactly.

Think I’ll go and watch it and be blown away by it all over again.

Hail Ceasar.

Movie Rating:

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A fresh approach to film reviews - no spoilers, just honest and heartfelt opinions.